Tudor And Breitling: Two Sports Watch Manufacturers Unexpectedly − But Not For The First Time − Sharing Movements In 2017
Watch brands sharing movements wasn’t always such big news. In fact, until recently it was absolutely the norm.
In the early days of the so-called mechanical renaissance, less than a handful of brands manufactured their own movements. This meant that almost every watch brand either bought movements from a third-party supplier like ETA or from the few brands that manufactured movements and were willing to share for economies of scale. Both Breitling and Tudor have relied on ETA movement technology for much of their respective existences.
Then came the moment in a booming period of recent watch history in which ETA attempted to stop delivery to brands outside the Swatch Group. Comco (Switzerland’s Competition Commission) stepped in to resolve that. In 2013 an amicable settlement was reached between Comco and Swatch Group (the owner of ETA), which ensured further delivery until 2019.
Joe Thompson provides a very well-structured and detailed description of the situation in Comco: Swatch Group Can Stop Mechanical Movement Sales In 2020.
Manufacturers relying on ETA’s movements became worried that their supply would eventually dry up, so they began to search out alternatives. For many brands that meant making their own movements.
Today we are blessed with a plurality of movements from a large variety of sources, which has made movements and movement technology really, really interesting again.
But now, to keep their movements exclusive, watch brands don’t share with each other as often as they used to.
Breitling Caliber B01
“We wanted to be in the pilot’s seat,” vice-president of Breitling, Jean-Paul Girardin, explained to me during a visit to the factory in early 2010, playing on the fact that Breitling primarily manufactures pilot’s watches.
Breitling introduced at least a partial solution to the ébauche crunch heralded by ETA’s early decree by creating chronograph Caliber B01.
One of the few brands to retain its entire workforce during the economic crisis of 2008-2009, Breitling spent the time well, getting its in-house automatic chronograph movement up and running, which it continued to use in addition to the ETA 2892 and 7750 calibers.
Movement production and assembly take place in a purpose-built facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds called Breitling Chronométrie, and it is interesting to note that the Breitling Caliber B01 was designed in five years by a five-man team in Geneva collectively called Breitling Technology.
A number of Caliber B01’s 346 components are outsourced, such as the reliable Nivarox escapement, but a large number are manufactured on premises by machinery that is to a great degree automated.
In fact, Breitling’s highly efficient manufacturing and assembly process was more much more automated than that of most of its competitors, right down to the oiling procedure and the laser attachment of the balance spring to its collet.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph
The new Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph is the first “manufacture” chronograph movement at Tudor. This word “manufacture” is used in the official press materials. However, also listed in the press materials is the explanation that the movement is derived from Breitling Caliber B01.
The automatic movement Tudor calls Caliber MT5813 bloomed from a Breitling Caliber B01 base to which the Geneva-based brand added its own regulating organ, including a silicon balance spring, and its own finishing style.
For more information, please visit www.tudorwatch.com/watches/new-black-bay-chrono.
Quick Facts Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph
Case: 41 mm, stainless steel, screw-down crown, water-resistant to 200 m
Movement: automatic Caliber MT5813 with integrated column wheel chronograph and vertical clutch, variable inertia balance, silicon balance spring, 70-hour power reserve, official C.O.S.C. chronometer certification
Functions: hours, minutes, (hacking) seconds; date, chronograph, tachymeter scale on fixed bezel
Price: 4,800 Swiss francs (steel bracelet), 4,500 Swiss francs (leather strap)
Remark: comes with additional fabric strap in box set
Breitling Superocean Heritage II
Breitling and Tudor have obviously come to an agreement on using each other’s manufacture movements because we find a modified Tudor Caliber MT5612, used for example within the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze, inside the new Breitling Superocean Heritage II.
The Superocean line, introduced in 1957 as a professional diver’s watch, celebrates its sixtieth anniversary in 2017.
Tudor’s first manufacture movement, which was introduced in 2015, is called Breitling Caliber B20 here, and it is also described in Breitling’s press release as a “manufacture” movement. Naturally, Breitling has added its own finished style to it.
I’ve always had a soft spot for this nostalgically designed line, and the second generation is no less a beautiful retro diver’s watch, even if some minor design work was undertaken to very slightly change the shape of the lugs and crown as well as the hands and hour markers.
The new, virtually scratchproof ceramic bezel is my favorite addition. And the case as a whole is only slightly higher than it was before thanks to the use of the Tudor movement instead of the previous ETA 2824.
For more information, please visit www.breitling.com/en/superocean-heritage-ii.
Quick Facts Breitling Superocean Heritage II
Case: 42 or 46 x 15 mm, stainless steel, water-resistant to 200 m, screw-down crown
Movement: automatic Caliber B20 (based on Tudor Caliber MT5612), 70-hour power reserve, free-sprung variable inertia balance, official C.O.S.C. chronometer certification
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Price: $4,600 (steel bracelet), $4,500 (leather-rubber strap), $4,300 (rubber strap)
Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante
Breitling’s eight-year-old Caliber B01 chronograph movement hasn’t just been transformed into a new movement for Tudor, it has been upgraded with two patents to become Caliber B03, now the most sophisticated form of wrist timer: it is a split-seconds chronograph, also known by its French name rattrapante.
Breitling introduces this high complication in the very attractive and aptly named Navitimer Rattrapante. The split-seconds chronograph function added only 28 parts to the movement, which are grouped in a module located between the base plate and the date mechanism, which simplifies production and servicing as a watchmaker can remove the subgroup as a block.
The first Navitimer model having arrived on the market in 1952, this line represents one of the flagships of the Breitling collection with its circular slide rule bezel. The $12,000 price for the stainless steel version is, needless to say, a very fair one.
For more information, please visit www.breitling.com/en/models/navitimer/navitimer-rattrapante.
Quick Facts Breitling Navitimer Rattrapante
Case: 45 mm, stainless steel or red gold
Movement: automatic Caliber B03 with integrated column wheel chronograph and vertical clutch, 70-hour power reserve, official C.O.S.C. chronometer certification
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, split-seconds chronograph, circular slide rule on bezel
Limitation: red gold version is limited to 250 pieces
Price: $12,000 (steel), $27,840 (red gold)